Jan Neuspiel

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Jan has been guiding and teaching all over the world for more than 35 years. He spent a good half of that time exploring and guiding in the Himalayan region, with six years living in Nepal and 11 years running a helicopter skiing operation in northern India. From a circumnavigation of Denali and a ski traverse of the Wrangle St. Elias, to an ascent of Mount Asgard in the Canadian arctic and a solo summit on Pumori (7161m) in the Nepal Himalaya, his personal expeditions have taken him far and wide. Back at home on Vancouver Island he’s guided most of the major island peaks, authored a number of first ascents and taught countless islanders rock climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing and avalanche skills. Jan started Island Alpine Guides in 2006 and has since nurtured it into the island's premier mountain school and guide service. He is also Guide Manager for Bella Coola Helisports, a heliskiing operation in the Mount Waddington area of the BC Coast Range. Though he’s getting to be a little long in the tooth, he intends to keep on sharing his love of the mountains with his students and guests for many years to come.

Helene Steiner

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By age three, Helene was already roaming Austria’s Alps with her mountain guide father, who introduced her to mountaineering, spelunking, and the joys of sliding on snow on various planks. This early initiation eventually led her to become Austria’s first female IFMGA-certified mountain guide in 1988, beginning a career that has now spanned over 36 years.
A life-long commitment to mountain exploration and guiding has resulted in a wealth of experiences, though perhaps most notable are the 33 winters Helene has spent as a heli-ski guide across BC and the Yukon. She has also spent time instructing CSGA Level 2 Ski Guide courses, and is a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association and ACMG. A degree in Tourism Management (1979-1981) from Klessheim (Tourism College) in Salzburg, Austria, has given her a well-rounded perspective of the outdoor tourism industry, and ultimately led her to create Canadian Adventure Tours Inc. in 1992. Helene’s understanding of team environments and individual potential make her a memorable speaker, and an inspiring instructor and guide. The word “can’t” has never been part of her vocabulary, despite a fluency in five languages. We’re thrilled to have Helene on the IAG team!

Graeme White

Graeme guidebio

Graeme’s love of wild spaces began at an early age camping with his family and exploring Western Canada and the Yukon. His own explorations continued across Western North America, South America, the UK and Africa. For sixteen years, Graeme worked with Outward Bound Canada, starting as an instructor and later as manager of their Western Canada operations. He also works with a Victoria area private school Outdoor Ed program, and fills the time between teaching and guiding with work as a carpenter. Graeme is often noted for his calming and level-headed presence in the mountains. He enjoys coaching individuals towards self-reliance, and always does his best to ensure everyone has a great day out. Graeme is a year-round fixture on the IAG team, and is well-versed on rock, snow, and ice.

Christine Feleki

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Originally from Canmore, Alberta, Christine was first introduced to the idea of guiding through a high school outdoor education program. She always knew she wasn’t cut out for an “inside job,” but it wasn’t until 2010, after a detour in photojournalism, that she committed to the path of becoming an ACMG-certified guide -- a path that has been full of almost daily highlights. Today, she is the first (and currently the only) female to pass an ACMG Ski Guide exam on a splitboard. She is also an ACMG-certified Hiking Guide, a CSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor and a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association. While Christine is adamant that she is incapable of sitting still, her clients often note her calm approach to teaching. She strives to create a low pressure environment for learning and exploring, while still supporting clients in their goals. After 16 years in the Sea to Sky region, Christine recently moved to Ucluelet and is excited to explore her new zone.

Joe Schwartz

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Joe is a Kootenay-raised ACMG Ski Guide who now calls Cumberland home. Over the last 15 years, he has worked for many heli, snowcat and ski touring lodges across BC and the Rockies. He loves that guiding gives him the opportunity to facilitate unique experiences for his guests, and gets excited about exploring new terrain. In a previous life Joe was a professional mountain bike athlete, which led him to ride in many far flung locales for photo shoots and competitions such as Red Bull Rampage. Joe also has a business degree with a marketing communications focus, and when he’s not guiding he works in digital marketing, managing teams designing and developing websites. Joe brings a level of excellence to everything he does, and is a true professional in the field.

Tim Plante

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Tim is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has been climbing and skiing as long as he can remember. The French Canadian expat has been living in BC since 2014, and graduated from the Outdoor Leadership Program at Columbia Bible College in 2016. He spends his winters working as an Avalanche Technician for Mount Washington and is a familiar fixture on IAG's team of AST1 instructors. In the summer, he works as a grizzly bear guide. His personal climb and ski trips have taken him to Norway, Sweden, France, Italy and Nepal, but he has also explored Canada and the US extensively. The young outdoor professional is well-known and liked for his enthusiasm and work ethic.

Brianna Coates

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Brianna was born and raised on Vancouver Island and has developed a deep appreciation for the Island Alps over the last 10 years. She is an ACMG Apprentice Hiking Guide, CSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor, and has her CAA Level 1. Brianna thrives on helping create transformational experiences for her students and clients in an outdoor setting. She works as an instructor for West Coast Adventure College, specializing in land-based navigation and leadership, and as an instructor for Yamnuska Mountain Adventures in their Rocky Mountain Cadet Program. Much of her outdoor work is education based, working with youth in schools and extracurricular programs and teaching a variety of outdoor skills. She is a long time volunteer with the Alpine Club of Canada and volunteered for 7 years with Juan De Fuca Search and Rescue. Brianna is the mastermind behind the IAG Wilderness Survival course, and is known for her capable, kind and thoughtful instructional style. When she’s not instructing or guiding, she’s planning her next climbing or skiing adventure.

Meaghan Buisson

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Meaghan is passionate about helping people explore wild spaces. A professional guide and outdoor educator, she works in mountain, coastal and winter terrain. Originally trained as a veterinarian and biologist, she now teaches wilderness medicine and is a member of her local Search and Rescue team. Prior to guiding, Meaghan competed internationally as both a member of the Canadian National Team and a professional athlete in the sport of inline speed skating. She is a 47-time National champion, and the current world record holder in the same. An enthusiastic and supportive instructor, Meaghan is noted for her ability to connect with others; her clients build confidence and skill in equal measures.

Andrew Councell

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Andrew began climbing in 1998 along Colorado's Front Range and began guiding in 2004, both in Colorado and North Carolina. He is a member of both the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and is an examiner for the former. A long-time Colorado resident, he now lives in Squamish and finds himself guiding in the Sea to Sky, the Central Coast and with IAG on Vancouver Island. Andrew's easy manner and quiet competence make him a great person to spend time in the mountains with.

Bryn Mitchell

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Growing up in Alberta, Bryn's love for the mountains was ignited in his teens. This eventually led him to move to the west coast to pursue a diploma in Outdoor Leadership. Today, in addition to working as an AST1 instructor, he works as a ski patroller with the avalanche mitigation team on Mount Washington and has aspirations of becoming a ski guide in the next few years. Bryn has skied and climbed across most of western North America and has embarked on climbing trips to Nepal, India and Argentina. He enjoys being able to share his passion and knowledge with others, and is known for his fun and comprehensive teaching style. His ability to bring concepts to life by drawing on real life experience is often remarked on by his students.

Nathan Seal

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Nate comes to the IAG team as an experienced military mountaineering instructor; having spent 10 years teaching and leading in the mountains with the Canadian Forces. Currently he is a professional Search and Rescue Technician, residing in the Comox Valley. Nate is one of three Canadian Forces search and rescue technicians who is fully certified as an avalanche forecaster in Canada. He is a Primary Care Paramedic, and also works at a Cat Skiing Operation for a couple of weeks each winter. He is a CSIA ski instructor and one of our AST course instructors. He enjoys teaching motivated people the skills to building safer and more enjoyable experiences in the mountains.

Alex Neubauer

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Alex loves moving through the mountains any way he can. As one of the three Canadian Forces Search and Rescue (SAR) Technicians fully certified as an avalanche forecaster in Canada, he now trains SAR Technicians in various disciplines, from medical skills to parachuting. He is passionate about teaching, learning, and all things mountain related, making him the perfect instructor for IAG’s AST1, Navigation and Wilderness Survival courses. He is a notably kind and patient teacher with a wide-range of knowledge and experience. A self-professed renaissance man, Alex is always looking for the next thing to learn.

Bill Phipps

Bill

Bill is a passionate skier and climber. Like many of our instructors, a love of the mountains has guided his life path from an early age, and he is keen to share that passion with others. This desire ultimately led him to pursue a teaching degree, and he has been a long-time instructor for the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT) program at Strathcona Park Lodge. Decades of teaching and working professionally in the outdoor field have left him with a well developed set of skills. In winters he is a professional avalanche forecaster for Mount Washington, and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin, which has provided him with an intimate knowledge of the avalanche game. Bill is also a member of the Canadian Ski Guides Association and spends part of his winters guiding at Cat and Heli Skiing operations. When he's not busy guiding, forecasting, and raising a kid, Bill is also an exceptional AST1 instructor on the IAG team.

Niko Weis

Niko

Since 1985 Niko has provided avalanche education in the US, Canada and internationally. He is a Professional Member of the Canadian Avalanche Association. Over the years Niko has stood out as an innovator in avalanche education in North America. Niko Specializes in Avalanche Search and Rescue Courses, courses for members and leaders of the BC Provincial Emergency Program and snowmobile specific courses. He’s also worked with IAG in developing curriculum and delivering avalanche training for Canadian Airforce search and rescue technicians.

Klemen Mali

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Klemen was born in Kamnik, Slovenia. Growing up in the Alps, he started skiing and hiking as soon as he could walk. He has achieved many first accents in the Slovenian Alps. Motivated by his desire to travel he has climbed around the world: Alaska, Canada, South America's Andes and the Karakoram of Pakistan. Shifting his focus to teaching, he became a certified IFMGA Mountain Guide in 2006. His hobbies include developing new climbing areas, travelling and photography. He is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish and Slovenian.

Ken Wylie

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Ken Wylie guides, coaches, speaks and writes primarily about adventure. Certified internationally as a mountain guide with the International Federation of Mountain Guides, Ken is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading adventure education innovators, and has developed a number of initiatives for various social needs. He has guided around the world and held faculty positions at Thompson Rivers University and Mount Royal University in their respective outdoor programs. These days he is busy leading and developing programs and workshops for Archetypal; promoting the application of mindfulness in adventure settings.

Freya Wasteneys

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Freya works behind the scenes to ensure the IAG office runs smoothly. The Island local grew up 10 minutes outside of Strathcona Park and is no stranger to the Island Alps. In a past life, Freya was a competitive skier, rower, and ultrarunner, but these days she spends most of her time exploring the backcountry by ski, boot, boat and bike. A graduate of Strathcona Park Lodge's Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT) program, Freya also holds a Bachelor of Communications. From 2016-2020, she worked as a writer, features editor and eventually managing editor for the Capilano Courier, but she has worked as a tree planter, mapping assistance and camp cook. She enjoys wearing many hats. And helmets!

Merlin Neuspiel

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Merlin is the real boss at IAG. As CEO, his roles include greeting guests, eating treats and getting tummy rubs. When not overseeing the IAG office, Merlin can be found taking his favourite human, Jan, on long mountain bike rides.